Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu should have won Israel’s latest elections last week in a landslide.
He signed four Arab-Israeli peace deals in the last few months. He persuaded former U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, relocate the embassy to the city and to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He also ordered a Mossad-led high-stakes heist of an Iranian nuclear facility.
These accomplishments are worthy of an easy re-election effort.
“But Netanyahu, four elections in a row, cannot get a majority,” ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg said in an interview on Friday with God TV. “That’s the headline: Netanyahu should have won in a landslide.”
After fourth uncertain elections in two years, Netanyahu’s path to victory is narrowing rather than widening despite political gambles.
Rosenberg, in a conversation with God TV’s Ron Cantor, president of the Hebrew language Shelanu TV, explained what he believes are the reasons behind Israel’s latest inconclusive elections and why Bibi cannot seem to put together a coalition despite his party, Likud, consistently receiving the highest number of votes.
“Netanyahu is no disciple maker,” Rosenberg said.
He knows how to recruit good leaders, but once they rise in power, he squashes them, Rosenberg explained.
“He fires them or he ignores them,” he said. “It’s an abrasive leadership style that has embittered, angered future leaders. The feeling among Knesset members right now is, if you try to help Netanyahu he will knife you in the back.”
Rosenberg reviewed Bibi’s hit list of former colleagues and trusted staffers who are now amassing a coalition against him, despite being of the same political ideology.
Gideon Sa’ar left Likud and took several of the party’s members with him to form New Hope, a party that espouses the same political beliefs as Likud. Both Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman have served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff at different times. Liberman has turned in recent years and refuses to sit in a government with Bibi.
Bennett, who ran a campaign of “firing the CEO” still hadn’t completely ruled out serving with Netanyahu. However, in the last week of the campaign, Likud “savaged” Bennett’s Yamina party causing the right-wing party to tank in the polls from high teens to single digits, Rosenberg noted.
All of this may have contributed to Likud gaining the highest number of votes, but could have backfired when it comes to forming a government.
The No. 1 problem now for Bibi is that “the people that he needs to form a coalition do not trust him and they do not want to work with him, and his pathway is narrowing,” Rosenberg said.
“The one person who says, ‘We really need to fire Netanyahu, but I’m willing to work with him,’ now he has 7 seats and it is not enough,” Rosenberg explained about Bennett.
And rather than bolstering his relationship with Bennett over the past few months to foster a natural alliance, Netanyahu sought the cooperation and loyalty of a few “extremist” parties, while attacking his closest potential ally.
The two “extremist” parties to whom Bibi reached out to sit on opposite ends of the spectrum – a far-right Jewish party called Religious Zionism and an Islamic party called Ra’am – do not have enough seats to push Likud over the 61-seat majority needed to form a coalition.
He participated in “political gimmicks to eke out one of two more seats, but it ends up costing him more,” Rosenberg explained.
Not only will those two parties not sit with each other due to extreme ideological differences, but several other parties also refuse to sit with one or the other of them, creating an impasse.
So is there a post-Netanyahu era coming either for Likud or the country in general?
Perhaps, but not soon.
Rosenberg explained that 97 seats out of 120 elected to Knesset are occupied by right wingers, far right or center right. The Israeli left wing is almost nonexistent.
While most of Israel recognizes Netanyahu’s professional handling of national security, Israelis are upset with what they see is his botched handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in which unemployment soared, the tourism industry was decimated and 70,000 businesses went bankrupt, not to mention Netanyahu’s upcoming trial on corruption and bribery charges.
“That being said he did an amazing job bringing in enough vaccines so that close to 90% of the country has received at least one shot,” Rosenberg noted. “Infection rates are going down, death rates are going down, the timing was perfect. If he didn’t get that right, he had no shot.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.